Foodbank is an ongoing photographic project by Glasgow-based photographers Saskia Coulson and Colin Tennant which began in the summer of 2020.

A volunteer in the doorway of one of the many storerooms of the food bank.

In 2009, the Trussel Trust (the UK’s largest food bank charity) opened its first branch in Scotland. Ten years later The Scotsman reported that there were a staggering 52 food banks operating in Glasgow alone. It is clear that in Scotland, and across the UK, we are seeing an increase in food insecurity with serious consequences for the health and wellbeing of children and adults alike. This is not a new issue, but concerns have been brought into sharp focus as a result of the global pandemic, food supply issues in light of Brexit and threats posed by the economic downturn.

A volunteer preparing food parcels. Due to Covid restrictions food bank users are only allowed to come into the building one at a time to select their weekly shop.

It has been projected that six food parcels will be given out every minute in the UK from October to December this year.

This work-in-progress project documents a food bank in the East End of Glasgow. It captures everyday people who volunteer their time and resources to provide sustenance to those in need.

A volunteer chef prepares the takeaway soup to be given out to those waiting in line for groceries.
A volunteer stands outside the food bank with a collection of open cereal boxes, the food bank often receives strange donations.
A volunteer stands in a newly built storeroom which is due to store all the donations. Recent changes in the building operations mean the original storerooms are needing to be cleared for church activities. 

“We live less than 100 yards from our local food bank in the East End of Glasgow. We first got to know the volunteers who run the food bank when we started helping deliver food parcels during the first UK lockdown when COVID-19 hit. Although it had been operating for many years prior to pandemic. Both the food bank and the (pay what you can) cafe are run out of the same church and share many of the same passionate volunteers that are the heart and soul of all operations.

Through this work we seek to highlight the invaluable service food banks provide to local communities. The work aims to illustrate the power and importance of grassroots community organisations that support and help society’s most vulnerable but also question why more and more people are reliant on the resources provided by food banks.

Throughout the project, we have spoken to volunteers about the uncertainty that this charity, and many like it, face. In the wake of government support for COVID-19, many existing funding programmes have been slashed or seriously cut back, which has left charities with an uncertain future. Not only is there anxiety around what lies ahead but the charity is also having to change their operations to abide by strict safety measures, which are changing on a weekly basis. What was once a busy social hub for those less fortunate to receive a hot meal, weekly basic shop and often some well needed company has now become a regimented process of allowing people in on a one-by-one basis.” – Colin and Saskia.

A user waits to be allowed into the food bank, which now operates on a one in, one out basis.
Stacks of donations are stored in every available space.
A new volunteer stands outside the food bank, she has recently decided to help out as she studies for her degree online. 

In light of these restrictions and setbacks, this project seeks to represent the hard-working individuals who keep this food bank running and how they strive to make sure that this organisation can not only provide food for the community, but can also provide a place for comfort, companionship and compassion.

A volunteer stands in a storeroom of the foodbank. 
A Volunteer and user embrace. As well as providing food for those in need, the food bank is a safe, social space for those seeking comfort and company.

All photographs and text, © Colin Tennant and Saskia Coulson, 2020.

Find your closest foodbank here. Please consider donating to your local foodbank if you don’t already do so. Thanks – Document Scotland.

We hope you have enjoyed the above article and images. Since forming in 2012 all the work featured on this site, and the work undertaken to enable it, has been free of charge. Now, times are changing. To continue we feel we need to ask for your support, to help us manage our time and energies, and to continue sharing photography we care about. Please visit our Patreon page and consider being a supporter. Thank you – Jeremy, Sophie, Colin. 

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Nick Hedges – A Life Worth Living

In 1968, Shelter employed Nick Hedges to document the oppressive and abject living conditions being experienced in poor quality housing in the UK. We commissioned the work in an effort to raise consciousness about the extent of unfit living conditions and to illustrate, in human terms, what the real cost of bad housing was.

A number of Nick Hedges’ images are on display on large billboards in St Andrews Square in Edinburgh this month, if anyone  recognises the people photographed or know what happened to them they are encouraged to contact Shelter – you can do by emailing [email protected]



Couple in a Leith tenement flat Edinburgh © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1972

Family living in an overcrowded tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Family living in an overcrowded tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Mother living with her children in an overcrowded single end tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Mother living with her children in an overcrowded single end tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

The thing about people living in slum housing is that there is no drama…it’s about the absolute wearing down of people’s morale in a quiet and undemonstrative way.
Nick Hedges

View of Glasgow tenements © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971  "It is apparent in the number of times disaster hits the city, every year some tragic event reinforced its reputation upon the rest of the country. A tenement fire, a gas mains explosion, a football crowd disaster, the shipyard crisis, the unemployment rate, another fire disaster; the list is endless". Nick Hedges

View of Glasgow tenements © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971


Unemployed colliery worker Glasgow tenement © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971 "They are the grimmest environment that I’ve encountered. This has something to do with the size of the stone used in their construction, the entry to them through the cave like entrances, the deep and dark stairwells and the relentless pattern of streets. The tenements are built around a courtyard which becomes a battlefield and refuse dump." -  Nick Hedges

Unemployed colliery worker Glasgow tenement © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Teenage girls waiting in backyard of tenement block Maryhill © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Teenage girls waiting in backyard of tenement block Maryhill © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

See a link here on the Shelter website for Nick Hedges’ honest and striking account of his time photographing in Scotland for Shelter.

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Why I Took This PIcture……Giulietta Verdon-Roe

It had been a long day.

I had started early, going straight to Home-Start Levenmouth offices and interviewing all who worked there.

It was just before Christmas and everyone was running around trying to organise the bags of presents which had been donated. Never ending lists filled with children’s names were being checked off and discussed…

“who would like the fire-engine over the small truck?”
“is she too old for this book?”
“her sister might steal that”
“ooo this is perfect for…”
“she’s a Tom boy she won’t like that!”

I was told that these were likely to be the only presents that these children received this year, so it was very important to find the right thing for the right child.

After the morning of sorting out toys and interviewing, I had arranged to meet with a volunteer and her young charge. We went to an arts and craft centre in a park where we painted magnets. It was incredibly windy and it was difficult to even open the car doors without them closing in your face as we climbed back into the car. It was freezing cold and the last of the trees clinging leaves flew from their branches. The magnets were going to be presents that the young girl could give to her Mum for christmas.

I took pictures through-out the day and found myself learning a great deal about the community I was documenting, the role of a volunteer and the children and parents they then helped.

On our way back we stopped off at the local super-market. The little girl I was with charged around pointing at everything and hoping she could persuade her volunteer to buy it.

I was so aware of her wanting these things and equally aware of her mums inability to afford them and there it was, aisles and aisles of toys that all the parents had to walk down and say no to. That’s why I took this picture.

Giulietta’s photograph, and others from her series, “Home-Start Levenouth”, can be seen at Fotospace Gallery, Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, as part of the “Seeing Ourselves” exhibition, which is curated by Document Scotland. The exhibition continues until August 1st 2013.
Document Scotland’s latest newspaper, which accompanies the exhibition can be bought online. Treat yourself.

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